Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Name is Yoon

Written by Helen Recorvits, Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Multicultural Children’s Picture Book: K-3
Stars: 4.5 (out of 5)

Summary: This is a story of a Korean girl who moves to the United States and must begin attending American School. She struggles with having to give up her Korean name, and refuses to write her American name, Yoon, on any of her papers.

            In this story, Yoon struggles a lot with her move to America. She feels out of place in her new life and wishes that she could go back to Korea. Thus, the story depicts how challenging it can be to move to a new country and be expected to adopt that new country’s rules, traditions, and expectations. Yoon struggles with giving up her Korean name, for I believe that for her, it symbolizes her Korean roots. It is a struggle that many of today’s students face: how to assimilate into the American culture without losing your home culture at the same time. It takes time for Yoon to adjust to the American schools and eventually, she writes her name in English, after trying out several other English words such as cupcake and cat.
            This book has many places in the classroom. First, it would be a nice read if I were to have a class comprised of several new students, particularly from other countries and cultures. Yoon’s story might help them feel more at ease and comfortable in their new environment. Even if I do not have new students, it would still be a useful theme to explore, for my students to better understand what it might feel like to move to a new school or place.
            The story also incorporates information about the Korean culture. Thus, this book could be used not only to explore Korea, but could be the springboard to explore the various cultures that my students may occupy, including those that may not be represented in my classroom. With my students connecting with their own cultures and sharing those with the class, I could find similar multicultural stories to supplement their cultural explorations as well. My Name is Yoon could act as either a window book or a mirror boo, depending on the individual students in my class. I think that this book could be an appropriate one to use, for Yoon is a character that is around the same age of the students that I would share the book with, and thus, despite the cultural differences, they could relate to her.
            While there are many lessons that could come from this book through its use in the classroom, it is also simply an enjoyable read with entertaining illustrations that children would love to look at. Meanwhile, the students would be learning something about another culture and the struggles that such a student might face coming to an American school. 

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